MindShift Gear - Interview with Doug Murdoch
How did innovation inspire the creation of MindShift?
Innovation is at the very heart of MindShift. We started the company because we knew we had created a great solution to a problem that has plagued lovers of the outdoors forever: to get at the gear in their backpacks they first need to stop and take them off. We solved this problem by innovating a unique solution that allows them to rotate the beltpack locked beneath their backpack to the front where they can access camera gear, guidebooks, food, emergency supplies, binoculars and more. And, they can do so without ever breaking stride.
How have you been able to integrate your tagline “Engage with Nature” into your designs?
It is hard to describe how frustrated bird watchers, outdoor photographers, and others who need their gear get when they have to stop, take off their backpack, and rummage around in it while the wildlife or shot disappears. Being at one with nature, where your eyes never leave the scene, is the ultimate in engaging with nature.
How does MindShift promote the outdoors?
We empower storytellers. Among our founders are a world-renowned conservation photographer, an environmental advocate, and two designers who cut their teeth in designing outdoor equipment. What we all agreed to focus on was designing gear that allowed lovers of the out of doors to capture its beauty and the travesty of its decimation. These are the dark and light side of storytelling.
What was the most important aspect when designing your products?
Our overriding branding theme is “urgent accessibility.” The out of doors is filled with “now moments,” fleeting moments that exist for only fragments of time. Traditionally, we who love the outdoors have either had to be extremely well prepared so that we can anticipate the moment—such as the rising sun hitting a cliff at a specific moment or a bird descending—or just be lucky. Now with MindShift backpacks’ rotation function, the number of moments that can be captured in the now increase. No more fumbling for the right equipment while the now moments disappear forever.
What was the most difficult task while designing a pack specifically for the outdoor photographer/enthusiast?
By far the most strenuous challenge was perfecting our now patented rotation180° function. We vowed to make it intuitive for the wearer to unlock and rotate the lower beltpack without looking, and to rotate it back so that the latch almost closes by itself. It is difficult designing anything, especially anything new, so that it becomes intuitive. According to our users and the reviewers, we’ve been able to do this successfully.
How has the beltpack feature changed the way photographers interact with their pack?
Darin McQuoid, who writes for Outside, recently posted: “It would be easy to use today's over applied clichés like game changing or disruptive technology. A backpack won't change your life; in the end it is just a backpack. On the other hand it might improve your photography. That's a bold statement. On rare occasions you come across a product that solves an old problem in a simple, elegant manner, making you wonder why it took so long to appear.” He continued, “MindShift Gear. It's a good name for camera backpack maker who is taking a new approach to the access/comfort issue.” I couldn’t have said it better.
Aside from carrying camera gear, have your consumers found any other unique uses for MindShift gear?
Our rotation180° backpacks are getting rave reviews from media covering snow-shoeing, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, and more. The rotation function is not specific to photography. Anyone who carries anything outdoors to which they need urgent access can benefit from this design solution.
What can we expect to see in the future for MindShift?
We have no shortage of creative ideas. My design team and I are working on future products that apply the rotation technology to different outdoor carrying challenges, as well as creating elegant solutions designed specifically for outdoor photographers. Having worked in backpack and outdoor photography design for over 30 years, I have a strong sense of where the problems are and what we can do to help solve them.